Pat Watters, Cosla president from 2001 to 2012 and a councillor in South Lanarkshire for 30 years, was appointed to the fire position by Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill.
Mr MacAskill also confirmed Vic Emery as the first chairman of the new Scottish Police Authority as revealed by The Herald.
It comes in the wake of a major shake-up of Scotland's police and fire services which will see the existing regional services merged into new nationwide organisations, to go live in April next year.
Mr MacAskill said both chairmen would act as "steady hands on the tiller" while not interfering in operational matters.
Mr Watters said: "Firefighters and staff will have a crucial role to play in the new service, and I will ensure we utilise their skills, expertise and ability to the full, to shape and deliver the new Scottish Fire and Rescue Service."
Mr Emery said: "I look forward to working with the new chief constable to ensure we deliver a service that is resourced, supported and challenged."